Friday, 20 April 2012

Day 313-314-The Netherlands

Old clogs used for advertising pewter workshop at Zaanse Schans,23/3/2012

The Netherlands was a destination that almost wasn't because it was not on my original itinerary. It must therefore be in the stars that I was to attend the last miniature fair at Arnhem. How else to explain the congruent of the unexpected and the conspiracy of workload causing my housemates to back out of going to Europe with me? This was a trip we had wanted to make since 2010 when we promised Rosanna that we would meet again in 2 years. 

On the external wall of Museum of Clog-Making, Zaanse Schans

The grand tour, when my housemates and I planned it just 2 months before, was to be Milan-Genoa-Lichtenstein-Berlin-Gdynia-Krakow-Prague. It was not to be a trip about miniatures or dolls' houses or anything remotely 1:12 since I was travelling with non-miniphile or others who don't love miniatures the way we do. I did however email 4 blog friends about this trip to see if we could meet.

Museum of Clog-Making, Zaanse Schans

The night my housemates broke the news to me, I wrote to the same friends again with a bit of a heavy heart, unsure if I should go anyway. I guess I was not prepared to give up on the trip and needed only a little push to convince myself I could do it alone. I didn't get a little push.

At an antique store, Zannse Schans

Instead, they all replied within 24 hours giving me an overwhelming yessssssssssss, come at once or just pack your luggage no matter what. The funniest was do you want to be responsible for making her cry her eyes out? I did not hesitate after that. I also knew then that I must go to Barcelona then to Genoa and somehow make my way to Wankendorf and then Gdynia so that I could give these 4 girls the Susan Tay hug of the century.The flurry of emails followed and I started plotting the dots of where my friends lived on the map of Europe.

Wrought iron grille on door of house, Koog Zaandjik

Quite naturally, my Europe 2012 tour became a miniphile-centric one, going where my miniphile friends were, all of them but two I had never met. Remember my passport cover? It was really a case of not knowing where, what, who or even when to expect. But did I care? Of course not. I was capable of feeling only thrills and excitement.

Toy Windmill in a planter-Zaanse Schans

About a week into the planning, Rosanna, who would go to Germany with me, asked if I wanted to go to the Dollhouse Show in Arnhem. Luck would have it that the show was to happen in between Genoa and Germany, in terms of both location and timing.  Truly, it was a dream come true and needless to say, my yes to Rosanna was said in a heartbeat.  That was how The Netherlands became the midway point of this trip. Barcelona-Terrassa-Genoa-Amsterdam-Arnhem-Wankendorf-Gdyia-Krakow.

on Sylvia's bedroom wall and loving that pull switch-23rd Mar 2012

Once we confirmed that we would be travelling to Amsterdam, Rosanna wrote to Sylvia who very kindly offered to house us on the 1st day when we arrived. Playing the perfect host, Sylvia took a train to meet us at the airport in Amsterdam. The picture she took of us just as we came out of custom promptly appeared that evening on her blog.

Details of Sylvia's 1:12 Cafe, Chez Lotje

Sylvia's home in Almere was like a destination unto itself for a miniphile and an interior buff. Going through her work was like visiting a model museum. I have followed Sylvia's work closely shortly after I started blogging and in early 2009 actually featured her blog on a post because I fell in love with her Room of An Alcoholic. In fact, almost exactly 3 years ago on 9th April 2009, Sylvia posted about both Rosanna's and my gifts in the same post. Mine were a pair of cranes that flew in to Netherlands from Singapore. Imagine 3 years later, the same girls flew in to meet her for real!

Lamp in Sylvia's bedroom

22nd March 2012 was spent walking around her estate, visiting some of the best spots for shopping in my whole trip. Sylvia prepared tea and then a simple but lovely dinner and in between, Rosanna and I went shopping again at the craft shop a stone's throw away from Sylvia's home. I bought a jig saw and Sylvia also gave me one of her smaller ones, tools I could not find at home. The rest of the evening till bedtime, the 3 of us chatted and shared our lives. It might just be that one conversation but it was one I would always remember. Sylvia is an extraordinary woman, just like her art.

Science Center Nemo, a building that's shaped like a ship-Amsterdam

The next morning, we left for Amsterdam after breakfast, knowing that we would see Sylvia again in Arnhem. I had heard so much about this city, from the pretty to the seedy but mainly I knew I was going to get my mini and architectural-fix here. That was why right after we checked into the hotel, Rosanna and I made our way to the Openbare (remember this name) Biblioteek Amsterdam or the Amsterdam Public Library.

That was where the mouse mansion was and I wanted to see it so much. Many of you would have heard of this mouse house and like me, loved it to bits. No matter what genre, style or scale you are into, this house appeals. As far as I am concerned, it is also a dollhouse builder's dream. 100 or more rooms with  10000000s of details and you can keep going if you want. This is a house I will never be tired of.

3D paper windmill farmhouse, Zannse Schans

By the time we left the library, it was past 11. We quickly made our way to the train station at Amsterdam Central to catch the metro to Zaanse Schans, a 20 minute ride away. Sylvia had told us the night before that this was a must see, even for the Dutch people. It was also where Sabiha, Mercedes and her had spent a day when Mercedes visited them last year.

Cake Shop - Koog Zaandijk

Lifestyle Shop at Koog Zaandijk

The charm started almost right after we alighted from the train at Koog Zaandijk. There were pretty shops every two houses and nowhere else spelt Spring like the doorsteps of these houses.

Outside the Lifestyle shop- Koog Zaandijk

Flower shop at Koog Zaandjik

In front porch of a house- Koog Zaandjik

On an urn of nest next to a chair- Koog Zaandjik

Just another pretty planter -Koog Zaandjik 

There were flowers, flowers, flowers, some of them going for a song, including the pots they came in. They were so cheap and so pretty, they almost made Rosanna cry. No wonder the Dutch are so home proud if nature's beauty comes to them in such abundance and for so little. Beauty is in every little detail of their lives, and

Lunch at D' Vijg Broers

even in a salad meal, you see art. And because we stopped for lunch before we crossed the bridge to Zaanse Schans, we met yet another beauty.

Frigate that parted the bridge before Zaase Schans

As we watched the frigate sailed in, a siren sounded and the stop lights at the bridge came on. The bridge opened like the red sea parting to allow the vessel through. It was such a sight to behold, Rosanna and I felt like we had struck the lottery for picturesque prize of the year. It put us in the mood for more beautiful sights and we were not disappointed. Zaanse Schans was so satisfying that we thought if you have only 1 day to spare in Holland, this was where you should visit. Zaanse Schans deserves a post on its own and that is what I will do in my other blog. I will also post pictures of another great outdoor museum that Birgit brought us. 

Window Display Near Amsterdam Central

In the meantime, our tour of Amsterdam was coming to a close and tired as we were, Rosanna and I knew we must see Amsterdam by night. This was to be our last night in Holland. We were to leave for Arnhem the next day and after the fair, we would then catch the night train to arrive at Neumunster where we hoped Birgit would be waiting.

I must admit I was really curious about the nightlife of Amsterdam, in particular the seedier side of town. So although we were warned by Sylvia to be careful only about 100 times when we were there, Rosanna and I bravely ventured, with our hands wrapped tightly around our bags and eyes darting everywhere for baddies and turning back every so often to make sure we were not followed. We were walking briskly and barely talking for almost 3 hours.

We weaved through lanes and walked along the channel, passed by shops and even stopped at the square. At the turn of each corner, I was expecting a shocking window of naked ladies or maybe a dirty heap of half smoked joints, even the chance to be horrified by some XXX pictures. BUT,

this was the closest we got to dirty;

a shop selling toilet equipment.

The nearest to joints we experienced was a shop hawking these bongs as gifts.

We passed by this promise to horrify and terrify but we wouldn't know since the museum was closed by the time we got there.

And Rosanna decided that the lady in this window, wearing the dress with that huge white bow across her chest must be the most shocking sight  for the night. Who in her right mind would wear that? I agreed with her completely.

I was so desperate for something that I bought a dozen of these postcards, spending way too much on  something that I would never used. I really should have just saved the money for Arnhem was my last thought before I fell asleep.

Tomorrow we go to Arnhem, if you are still interested.

O yes, and do you want to know what I thought was the most scandalous thing in Amsterdam? It's got to be the name of their public library.


Drora's minimundo said...

Thank you Sans for sharing these wonderful experiences with us. Blogland at it's best, is what I call your trip to Europe.

The Old Maid said...

While I am waiting for all the photos to open - yep, nothing like slooooow internet... again... - I will write that I LOVE your posts, dear Sans! Yes, I know you know that I love the way you write them!!:)So what that I'll repeat that again and again? ;D

I remember these emails going around Europe and Asia.;D They made me smile again. And still thinking how good it was you decided to come here!

Holland seems to be a pretty country, worth visiting for sure!

Hugs and kisses

(now a little just teeny tiny favour please, please: .... the name is GDYNIA....LOL!)

Sans! said...

Drora, wow! I couldn't have said it any better :). You have just described my Europe trip most succinctly in 4 words!

Sans! said...

Ewalina, why??????? Gdyia sounds so much better :):) LOL. Sorry dearie but Polish names are terrible (although not impossible like the Dutch names). I will never forget after this but as long as your dad calls me Samantha, I shall say Gdyia instead of Gdynia :)

And come back to read the funny parts. I published the post at 11.59pm before I finished to make it a 20/4 post :). So you might not have read Amsterdam at Night :).

rosanna said...

Ahhh....trip sickness .... my dear, it makes me good to read all this, makes me remember that it truly happened and that there are nice events in life.
I shall write you later. Hugs, Rosanna

Oese said...

You have such a nice way to fotograph, it was really a pleasure to watch these special shots. thank you for sharing and best wishes to you.
I hope I can meet you at your next trip to Europe.

Maria Ireland said...

Amazing pictures thanks for sharing. I have been to Amsterdam its a beautiful city. The flowers wow. I love reliving your trip with you its so interesting and fun.
Hugs Maria

Eva - tatalamaru said...

Que bonitas imágenes. Que divina tuvo que ser tu visita a Holanda. Me pregunto cuando iré yo, mira que la tengo cerca y nunca la he visitado y me muero de ganas.
Un beso enorme y no dejes de enseñarnos el resto de tu recorrido.
Feliz fin de semana!!!

BiWuBär said...

I think it's about highest time to say "Thank you" to your housemates for canceling their Europe trip - imagine not to have gone to the Netherlands... ;O) A wonderful post, so interesting and soooooo funny - I totally agree with Rosanna about the white-bow-dress, btw. And it brought back some very sweet memories about sending and expecting E-mails... and waiting at a railway station in the VERY early morning (LOL). I'm only puzzled about one detail: Do they really sell postcards of Anne Frank? Don't tell me she was holding a joint in her hand... brrrrrr.... that would be a shame!

Birgit (and from Fluby, the owner of yet more strawberry stuff, too)

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

What a Wonderful trip! So lucky getting to see the Mouse Mansion :)

Thank you for the Awesome pictures!


Daydreamer said...

Oh, how lucky to get to go see all your mini friends! Amazing, isn't it, the chance that made this trip happen! As you said, it WAS meant to be! And your pictures are enchanting! I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Arnheim!!!!
I saw the "first" posting of this post while at work today (Lunch break for me!) and was so pleasantly surprised to see there were so many more pictures when I looked again later!!
It has been such a treat to enjoy your travels through Europe... from so MANY Blogs! Lol!
I LOVE the shoes pictures!

Sans! said...

It was so fun to be writing this entry, Ro because I got to relive all those moments again :). Thank you my dear because you made Netherlands happened for me :). To be able to experience my first fair with you and Sylvia and all the other Dutch mini-philes was such a gift.

I have a really good picture of you at Zannse Schans but I am saving it for a special post. :)

Sans! said...

Petra, I will make it happen :) our meeting :). And as you know by now, I always keep my promise :). Thanks to Birgit, I truly, deeply and madly love the parts of Germany I had seen. The outdoor museum Birgit brought us is now my favourite museum of all times, sharing top spot with the Dali museum at Figueres. Remember it was in Figueres that we spoke? :):)

So we will meet, P. Either when you are here in South East Asia or when I am back there again :).

Sans! said...

Maria Ireland :). My pictures of Amsterdam at night came out pretty badly :). But the ones on Zaanse Scahns were good :). If you haven't been there, you must. :)

Sans! said...

Eva Tata :) las maletas ahora y sólo tiene que ir :). A veces en la vida, no pensar demasiado :) y la belleza que pasa cuando menos te lo esperas. Al igual que mi encuentro con vosotros :). Nunca me olvidaré de ti :)

Mil besos y un abrazo gigante de grande!

Sans! said...

Birgit, I did! I did! I said "Thank yous" many times to FaiZ :):). Hahaha. I was also wondering about Wankendorf if they had come..because Faiz wanted to do Berlin instead. I will not trade my experience there for any other destinations, you know, now that I had seen your charming little "village" and tasted that fabulous marzipan cake made by MamaSilke :).

+ that amazing open air museum what's the name? My brochures are in the office :).

Yes, Anne Frank, Van Vogh, Rembrant, Dutch milk maids, even the children in the Happy Family card, all with their own joints !

Sans! said...

Victoria, the whole trip is like the best of everything and truly, like Drora so aptly puts it, Blogland at its best :). Without blogs, I wouldn't have heard of Mouse mansion, I think or know that it's now in Openbare (*giggle) Biblioteek Amsterdam.

Sans! said...

Bets, I had thought clogs for Holland corny before I saw these on the walls of the museum :). Distressed wooden clogs are of course truly charming ad very shabby chic ..hehe.

After I come back from my run, I will start writing about Arnhem :). I hope....maybe after lunch ..or after dinner :)

contar said...

ho, las descripciones de sus viajes me gustan tanto que no me canso de leer, y la verdad me dan una envidia sana, es usted muy afortunada de tener tantos amigos por el mundo
un abrazo

ho, the descriptions of his travels I like so much that I never tire of reading, and I really give a healthy envy, you're very lucky to have so many friends around the world
a hug

Rosamargarita said...

Un viaje maravillo, inesperado y perfecto! El destino?
Preciosas fotos de una experiencia única.
Muchos besos

Eliana said...

So gorgeous photos, Sans! Thank you for sharing these lovely things.

The Old Maid said...

Sans, I was sure there must have been a gap in your post!!LOL! OK today it is working better so I can see all.
Ohhhh, all right then may stay Gdyia, dearest SAM!!!!!

Alexandra said...

Yes, this is my country.
Nice pics dear Sans.

Lots of kind regards, Alexandra.

Ascension said...

Es un placer leer tu diario de viaje, de un viaje fantastico en el que seguro pensaras en mucho tiempo.
Me encanta recorrer el mundo, viendo esas fantasticas fotografias y tus maravillosos comentarios.
besitos ascension

Debora said...

You are a fantastic story teller Sans, the joy jumps at you from all you've written. The fun part is you show me my own surroundings through your eyes. I practically live on the Zaanse Schans and it's an amazing place for sure. But what strikes me most is to know you you've been out here, just 5 minutes from my place... so tangible... Most important I'm happy you've been welcomed by fellow mini-friends from the Netherlands and that you've seen some of our quant country. And cool you've had the change to travel on and see much more of the world.

carmen said...

maravilloso relato y maravillosas fotografías, como siempre, es un placer para los sentidos venir de visita....

Ilona said...

Hi Sans, here another Dutch woman: yep, this is my country too ;)! Thank you for sharing your nice pictures and "huge" story about Holland! Also with so much humour, I like that very much! If you have taken a good look: we do not walk on wooden shoes anymore, many people think we do :S!
It is wonderful to be in the blogosphere where you can travel, but for real: I wish I had the opportunaty to do ;)
Greetings, Ilona

Liberty Biberty said...

Hi Sans!!
I Can see you had just as much fun as I did in The Netherlands...reading your post it's like I'm there again!

Margriet said...

You had a wonderful time here in Holland..the photos are proof of that. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself here!

Josje said...

It is funny to me how when you travel as a tourist you always look with different eyes. Great photos. I live fairly close to the Zaanse Schans but I have NEVER been there. Passed it, but never actually stopped.
Your search for the red light district was very funny. It is there though!

Jollie said...

So glad to hear that you love my country lol!
And it shows on your colorful pictures!!
I am very glad that I met Sylvia last time I visited Holland too, she is indeed a very special lady! :-)

Hugs Jollie

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